How To Stay Lean While Traveling/On Vacation


How many times have you been crushing your nutrition and training, seemingly only a few weeks from your goal body... only to be completely derailed by a trip for work or a vacation?

It takes a month for you to get back on the fitness wagon... by this point, you feel like you're starting over.

For most of us, staying on track when your schedule ISN'T hectic is easy.

It's the times you're out of your normal routine that kill your progress towards a leaner, stronger body.

Reality check: Until you learn to manage times like these, you WON’T be able to maintain the body you want. I know I couldn’t.

This is why you always benefit most from having a coach when your life is at its craziest (and waiting until you're "not busy" to invest in yourself is a bad idea) - you FINALLY have the strategy, structure, and accountability to make these times work with your goals.

You won’t stay sustainably lean without this education.

Here are the strategies I give my vacationing or traveling clients ↴

Get Rid Of The “All-Or-Nothing” Mindset

Being on point 80-90% of the time is enough to build (or maintain) the body you want.

You've seen the transformations my online clients make.

Guess what?

There's never been a client who HASN'T had a bad week of nutrition, or missed a workout - even the ones with the most incredible results.

It's NOT... 100% perfection with the plan or you don't get results.

It's consistently doing your best to manage hard situations, and getting back on track A.S.A.P. after you fall off.

A day if bad eating, a subpar workout, traveling, or the holidays AREN'T a reason to give up on fitness altogether until January.

It's almost Christmas. Most of us will be in "less than ideal" circumstances the next few weeks. You can enter this time with one of two mindsets...

1. "I won't be able to track these calories accurately, or follow my training routine 100%... why try?"  You eat lots of extra calories, and don't train. When new years comes, building the body you want will be A LOT harder. (And you'll lose your results AGAIN the next time "less than ideal" circumstances come along.)

2. "I won't be able to track my calories as accurately, or follow my training routine 100%... but I can still make smart food decisions, track to the best of my ability, and train at least 1-2x this week." While you might not make tons of progress over the next few weeks, you maintain your results and feel great going into the new year.

The reality of living lean is - sometimes, maintaining your results is a win. If you have 26 great weeks in a year, and 26 weeks where the best you can do is maintain - you'll still be in MUCH better shape by the end of the year.

This is what progress looks like for all of us. No one is perfect every week.

But you must first quit with the "all-or-nothing" thinking.

The one sure way to NEVER achieve you fitness goals, is to think: "I can't be perfect this week... why even try?"

Pick Your Battles

I love tequila, street tacos, and churros.

Last week (in Cancun at an all-inclusive resort), I consumed a lot of all three.

These calorie-dense foods aren't ideal for staying lean.

Which is why strategically picking your battles when it comes to food is key.

I knew that out of all the foods and beverages at the resort, these three were the ones I would get the most enjoyment out of, and wanted to experience (a lot).

So instead of eating all the food just because it was available, I saved calories in other areas to allow for more food I would truly enjoy, while still keeping my calories reasonable.

Every time we went to breakfast, I would skip it in favor of black coffee. Sure the breakfast food looked good, but I knew I wouldn't really enjoy it that much. I knew it wasn't worth the trade-off of a.) eating fewer tacos b.) achieving my physique goals.

Through the rest of the day, I looked for other areas I could "save calories" - skipping the guac, not eating the rice the came with my steak - you get the idea.

Take time to think through your food decisions before eating.

It’s so easy to get in the mindset of…

“I have lots of delicious food available, I need to eat all of it!”

This is ESPECIALLY true at all-inclusive resorts, cruises, and over the holidays.

It’s too easy to overdo it on foods that don't really make you happier than a lower-calorie option would, simply because they're available.

It’s crazy important to pick your battles when it comes to food.

Make Protein A Priority

Protein is incredibly important.

Not only does it help you build or maintain your muscle mass, it also is very filling.

Protein is typically the hardest macronutrient to come by when you're traveling (or in holiday treats). Underconsuming protein means you'll be hungrier, and more likely to overeat lots of calorie-dense foods.

One way to auto-regulate your appetite, and prevent overeating when unlimited food is available?

Make protein a priority.

→ Be sure to get AT LEAST 25-40g protein at each meal you eat. Basically, just make sure when you're eat at the resort restaurant, at Grandma's, or wherever... that there's a big chunk of protein on your plate.

→ Bring protein-dense snacks with you. Things like:

  • Jerky
  • Protein Powder
  • Protein Bars
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Greek Yogurt Cups
  • Tuna Packets

Snacking on these a few times per day, (or before going to a restaurant you're worried you'll have trouble managing calories at) helps keep hunger and calories MUCH lower.

Don't Worry About Macros - Focus On Protein + Total Calories

Macros allow us to get very specific within your nutrition. This means they're a good idea for online clients that want very specific results (photoshoots, bodybuilding shows, etc.).

But on the road, or in situations where you have less control over food options, hitting a protein, carb, and fat goal is TOUGH.

Plus, the 2018 DIETFITS Study, which showed that there is no noticeable difference when it comes to fat loss when we compare a low-carb approach to a low-fat approach.

When you're in circumstances like this, we'll have you focus on a calorie and protein goal only. From there, you let carbs and fats fall where they may within your total calories.

This eliminates a lot of stress from you as a client, allows more food flexibility without hurting your results, and makes staying "on plan" easier.

Modify Your Training Strategy

You DON’T have to lose your progress on vacation due to a lack of equipment.

But you also don’t have to spend hours in gym.

Here’s how I program for my online coaching clients on vacation (and how I trained in Cancun last week):

Use exercises with lots of limiting factors.

For example, in the video below I strategically made Bulgarian Splits Squats harder by wearing sliders and taking too many tequila shots the night before.

...but mostly, using one limb means you can still train hard, with less weight (the usual limiting factor when traveling).

So when traveling and less equipment or weight is available, it's a good idea to focus on things like...

→ Training single arm & leg movements

→ Adding 3-5 second negatives to each rep

→ Adding 3-5 second iso-holds at the bottom of each rep

→ Working from a deficit to increase range of motion

These strategies allow a great training effect, WITHOUT heavy weight or much equipment.

Here’s one of my vacation workouts as an example:
a1.) Bulgarian Split Squats 3x8/side


b1.) Staggered Stance RDL 3x8/side

c1.) Swiss Ball Triple Threat 3x30

c2.) Reverse Crunch 3x10-12

Did I make crazy leg gains from this training session? Nope.

Was it more than enough to maintain, and keep me growing? Absolutely.

Creating the leanest, strongest, and most confident version of yourself isn't complicated.

It just takes accountability and consistency with a smart, realistic plan.

If you're ready to build your best self in 2020, CLICK HERE to apply for online coaching.

About The Author

Jeremiah Bair is a certified nutrition coach, strength coach, and owner of the Online Coaching Business Bairfit. His Instagram is noticeably missing any calf pictures.

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